SANTA BARBARA SURPRISES
Santa Barbara is a place I have only visited twice. I was there in 1998 when we rode our bikes from San Francisco to LA with a group of friends. We alternated camping and staying in hotels and Santa Barbara was a hotel night so we stayed at the Miramar hotel. With beachfront property and a train going right through the grounds, we were enthralled. It had a coffee "train" where we loaded up on caffeine and they gave you wipes to get the tar off your feet from oil rigg sludge pumping out in the ocean and drifting back to the shore. The hotel's prime was past, but we loved the location, even though its glory was past. (It has since been torn down and re-built.) I was struck how beautiful Santa Barbara was with the dramatic mountain range rising to the east and, of course, the ocean. On that trip we spent time wine tasting in Los Olivos, out on Faxon Canyon Road and Firestone Vineyard, Fess Parker, and Mosby wineries. We thought it was so quaint and charming. What a sweet spot. That was all before the movie Sideways came out, and when we went to see it, we only knew it was about the "wine" country, nothing more...we were so surprised and excited to see that it was somewhere we had been....and loved.
Los Olivos has changed. It has grown from a small town in the middle of nowhere, to a destination. Each tasting room in town seemed full to capacity and we wiggled ourselves in and settled on an unfamiliar winery, Stolpman Vineyards. We sampled their wines and found them to be quite tasty. We took home a saugvinon blance and a syrah. Los Olivos today probably has more wineries than people and the tasting rooms compete with one another for frontage road in this tiny town. I highly recommend it!
Last weekend, we stayed in a rented house on a bluff overlooking the ocean with an 180 degree view! It was amazing (See above picture for view). I walked down the Santa Barbara pier and we had seafood at Brophy Brothers. Don't bother with the food (the oysters were taste-less) but DO have a drink, the view and pier are wonderful. State Street was an interesting mix of trendy shops with Pier 1 Imports, Macys, and an Indian Emporium with rugs, shirts, purses and shoes for the whole family. I had to have a couple of shirts just for fun (and $10). We left the beach and headed over to get some tacos from Super Rica on Milpas. As we turned the corner and saw the line.....twenty deep....we knew it must be good. We ended up waiting for over an hour, which meant we all got sun-burned shoulders and faces. We did get a story from two women in line about Super Rica being one of Julia Child's favorite places....so that was worth it! Cute!...whether it is true or not....it is now lore and I am passing it on.
More highlights included sitting with some "Edible Santa Barbara" magazines and pouring over them. From articles on raising Chickens.,..I am doing this...to beekeeping, which I do already, to backyard suburban gardens full of veggies and CSA's and farmer's markets blossoming all over the Santa Barbara area. I am impressed!
The best part was hanging with my husband Glen, brother-in-law Barry and sister-in law, Nancy...who I rarely go away with so....thanks for inviting us and for the fun time!
Go when you get the chance! You won't regret it!